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Work from home looks here to stay in Australia, New Zealand – but it’s not for everyone

In the four years that global IT consultancy Waterstons has allowed its 20 Sydney-based staff to work whenever and wherever they want, only one employee’s performance has suffered.

“If you treat your people like adults, that’s how they will behave,” Waterstons’ Asia-Pacific Managing Director Charlie Hales said, adding that the company measures employees’ output, not input.

This positive employer-employee dynamic not only makes the company more attractive to new recruits, it also inspires them to go “the extra mile”, she said.

The only downside to flexi-working? Some employees who have only ever had nine-to-five jobs can struggle to adapt to autonomous working, Hales said, but Waterstons now screens for this during the interview process.

Flexible working practices are having a moment post-pandemic, not only in the Asia-Pacific but around the world – underscoring a shift in attitudes towards work and its impact on modern life.

The change was turbocharged by pandemic-era remote working, which forced some companies to adapt to the practice for the first time, while others simply expanded on their existing policies.

Despite sweeping endorsements for the benefits of flexi-working, for employers and employees alike, it has also triggered concerns about its effect on productivity.

Many companies voiced concerns that a lack of face-to-face, in-person collaboration could undermine employee development and younger staff members’ ability to learn.

As tensions simmered, some employers like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia moved to impose “return-to-work” mandates last year, prompting a labour backlash.

While unions have fought back against the change, bosses chalked up a win in November when the Fair Work Commission, Australia’s industrial